Phil and Philippa Lurcock

Location: Leicestershire

Name: Phil and Phillipa Lurcock

Business Name: Phormular Limited

  • We have run our previously thriving exhibition design and installation business for 10 years
  • We employ 4 people in addition to ourselves, as well as numerous regular contractors and freelancers.
  • In March, the exhibition industry was shut down to Covid-19.

Every job we had booked for 2020 was cancelled while social distancing measures are in force and our new business pipeline has completely shut down.

The majority of our installations take place at Excel and the NEC which are currently redeployed as Nightingale Hospitals. As a result, we currently have no income projected for this financial year, as we await the eventual loosening of social distancing measures and our industries’ return to capacity.

We are ineligible for any support from the government for our business:
We rent an industrial unit with a ratable value of £15500, pushing us just over the threshold for the small business grant fund and we receive no rate relief.

In spite of numerous promises on record to include the exhibition and events industry in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund, Rishi Sunk has not done so.

We cannot both furlough ourselves as we chose to accept a small contract to design and install vaccine testing stations for the UK Coronavirus Vaccine taskforce which while reaps minimal profit, presents a more worthwhile use of our time than furlough. We must also stay active within the business communicating with suppliers and clients in order to ready ourselves for the upturn

We have applied for a bounce back loan which will help clear the debt we’ve accrued from covering our overheads using personal borrowing since being forced to effectively cease trading at the end of February. It may be enough to cover the month or so of rent and rates.Our commercial landlords are being understanding to a degree, but they won’t allow us to defer until events and exhibitions are back to capacity. We’re facing the very real prospect of having to give up our lease. This is a huge concern since units that size in our location are extremely rare, also we have an industrial unit full specialist exhibition hire stock we own outright, not to mention the forklift, workshop machinery and office equipment etc. If we don’t have a use for it until Excel and the NEC returns to the industry, no one else will so there’s not much likelihood of a successful fire sale on that score. Moreover, we don’t want to!

I feel physically sick at the thought of our previously thriving business faces this potential decimation through absolutely no error of our own. There’s no possibility that we’ll be able to match 40% of the salaries of our employees come July so the next step may be deciding the most cost-effective ways of letting employees go.

We have no meaningful financial support for our business or young family and are forced to take on debt to make ends meet. The mental and emotional toll is significant on top of the already challenging times.